:: eye of the storm ::

About Me

A 27-year-old PA student who wants to visit all seven continents, write a book, work at a pediatric clinic in Africa, and basically meet as many of the world's challenges as possible.

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current mood:
current mood

Life List

(already accomplished)

Become a PA

Visit all 7 continents

Take a SwimTrek trip

Bike through Western Europe

Raft the Grand Canyon

Improve my Spanish proficiency

Go on safari in Africa

Trace my roots at Ellis Island

Vacation in Hawaii

Work on a hospital ship in a Third World country

Celebrate New Year's in Times Square

Visit all 50 states (29 to go: AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY)

See the ruins at Pompeii

Swim in Capri's Blue Grotto

Tour Mt. Vesuvius

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Tour the Colosseum

Visit the D-Day beaches

See the Mona Lisa

Visit the palace at Versailles

See the Acropolis and Parthenon

See the Egyptian pyramids

Hike the Inca Trail

Walk El Camino Santiago

Take an Alaskan cruise

View the Taj Mahal at sunrise

Hike Table Mountain in South Africa

Climb through the Amazon canopy

Walk at least part of the Great Wall of China

Get laser hair removal

Learn to surf, ski, and snowboard

Learn to drive a stick-shift

Learn to play the piano

Go on a tropical cruise

Ride horseback on the beach

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get tickets to the Olympics

Go to adult Space Camp

Witness a shuttle launch from up close

Build a full-sized snowman

Sew a quilt out of my old race T-shirts

Update and continue my Life Scrapbook

Become the oldest person to ever do the River Run

Live to be a happy, healthy 100 years old - at least!

(unlikely dreams)

woensdag 30 maart 2005

Hmm, haven't done one of these in a while... stole this one off my sister's site.

Complete The Sentence:

I once had a dream... that a furry monster was picking up my foot and eating my toes. I think I was three or four at the time.
I'm only racist towards... people with thick Southern accents - I can't help but think of them as stupid.
I don't even know why I... am filling out this survey, when I'm sure no one cares.
I'd give anything to have sex with... uuhhh - some tall, broad, cute, multilingual athlete (but not too skinny!).
Nothing sucks more than... getting your period the day before a swim meet. :)
If I had six bucks I'd buy... the Moo Moo Mr. Cow kids meal from Moe's.
It's hot. I should take off my... pajamas. But do you really wanna see that?
It's always more fun if you... add 'in bed' the the end of your fortunes.
You can't eat steak without.... teeth.
You better shut up before I... fall asleep.
I really like you and everything but... you're too young for me.

What would you do if...

A dirty old guy at the airport slaps your ass?: Probably ask at the top of my voice if his mother never taught him to keep his hands to himself.
Somebody was about to steal your car?: Sic Demon Dog from next door on him - if he can attack my poor mom, he can sure attack a stranger.
You wake up with a billion spiders crawling all over you and your bed?: Jump under the shower, pajamas and all - then call the night manager.
The person you just kissed tells you they have oral herpes?: Spit on them, then run for the mouthwash.
You had three wishes? Wish for unlimited wishes, of course!
The government allowed you to choose one thing to be made illegal and one thing to be legalize?: I'm with my sister on this one - outlaw smoking, and legalize euthanasia. Or maybe pot.
Britney Spears was at your front door asking for jumper cables?: Give them to her, then laugh when she hooks them up wrong.
You had a time machine?: Go forward and get a sneak peek at myself 30 years from now.
FOX gave you a half hour show to do whatever you wanted?: Inject some liberalism into that Republican-ized channel.

Would you rather....

Find the cure for cancer or the cure for AIDS?: Cancer - AIDS is technically preventable, but cancer can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Have the power to fly, or the power to teleport?: Fly!
Have the power to see the future, or the power to record your dreams?: Why is this even a question? See the future, definitely.
Be really skinny, or really fat?: Really skinny. You can add curves and muscles where there are none, but taking them away, that's a whole different story.
Be lost in a forest, or stuck in a box?: How big of a box, and where is it? Might be funny.
Be in a drama movie, or a comedy?: Either.
Be in a hip hop video or a rock video?: Neither.
Have your birthday on Christmas Day, or on February 29th?: February 29th! I could have been, if I'd been a couple weeks after my due date, but, as it turned out, I was in a rush to get here.
Live in the sewer, or in Afghanistan?: Practically the same thing, aren't they?
Be in a mental institution or in a penitentiary?: Penitentiary.
Snowboard or hang glide: Both! But hang gliding sounds more fun.
Be a ninja or a pirate?: Ninja.

Who was the last person...

That haunted you?: That weird kid from Impact who practically stalked me all last week, trying to figure out my religious beliefs and trying to get me to vote in the SG elections.
You wanted to kill?: See above.
You laughed at?: Fabienne, when she came in drunk just now.
Laughed at you?: Anna, in the car on the way home from swim practice, during the description of my last clubbing experience (it involved Renate, Fat Tuesdays slushies, and two desperate Indian guys).
Turned you on?: Well, it definitely wasn't the Indian guys. ...I must admit, Martin still holds that honor. Someone else step up to the plate, please?
Went shopping with? Mom, I think, to buy bathing suits.
Called you?: Carolyn. Or did I call her?
To disappoint you?: Lauren; her alligator drawings weren't as good as I'd hoped.
To make you mad?: My Language and Dialect teacher, because she's had our papers for two weeks now and not returned them. Grrr.
Brighten up your day: Sarah, a swimming classmate - we realized today that we went to the same elementary school and actually kind of remember each other from way back.
You saw a movie with?: Renate (Meet the Fockers)
You instant messaged?: Mom
Saw?: Fabienne, stumbling drunkenly up the stairs, eyes half-closed.


Who is your best friend?: There are a lot of possible answers, but Elise and Renate definitely make the top few, plus Anna, Jenna, Lauren, and Nika from swimming, and I guess Carolyn's up there too. Oh, and Linde and Alette... OK, I'll stop now.
Person that knows most about you?: Aside from my family, probably Elise.
Best advice that anyone has ever given you?: "Don't lurk in doorways."
Your favorite inside joke?: "No, 'linguist' is not a synonym for 'nerd'."
You're picked on most about?: Renate sometimes picks on me about my eating habits, but other than that, really nothing.
Who's your longest known friend?: Well, I would have said Elise (six years), but after talking for 45 minutes in the locker room with Sarah today, we realized we've technically known each other since kindergarten!
Shyest?: Carolyn
Closest?: Elise
Weirdest?: Greg (from work), if you call him a friend.
Ditziest?: Probably Hanna, but in a cute way.
Friends you miss being close to the most?: Mandy, Faith, Liselotte, David...
Who are you on the phone with most?: These days, it's Mom.
Who do you trust most?: I really don't know.
Who listens to your problems?: Usually my parents.
Who do you fight with most?: I don't really FIGHT with anyone, but Renate and I end up in edgy little 'discussions' a lot - we both have to be right 100% of the time, which can be difficult. :)
Who's the nicest?: Carolyn
Who's the most outgoing?: Probably Renate, but I fall into that category myself, too.
Who's the best singer?: Toss-up between Mandy, Renate, and Faith - they all have different styles.
Do you always feel understood?: Usually
Who's the loudest friend?: Once again, Renate.
Do you trust others easily?: Generally, yes.
Whose house were you last at?: Besides my own? Uh... Nika's, if a dorm room counts as a house.
Do your friends know you?: As opposed to my evil twin?
Friend that lives farthest away?: The whole Dutch contingent.

donderdag 24 maart 2005

Well, that was a big waste of my time. We're doing linear equations and graphs in my math class (remember those? You take something like y = 2x + 4 and draw the line on a graph, or you take the line on the graph and turn it into an equation). Easy, easy, easy stuff, which is nice, but at the same time it's like... why do I even bother to go? Usually I do my best to copy everything down, but on this occasion I knew the material so well that I just stopped writing, put everything back in my bag, and sat there, figuring out the answers in my head and waiting for class to be over. Ah, well, this is my last class for GE credit, thank goodness.

We played Ultimate Frisbee instead of swimming yesterday morning, since the O'Connell Center pool is closed down for synchronized swimming championships. My team lost (partly because it was essentially guys against girls), but it was a lot of fun; I hadn't played since those few weeks with the UF team, and that wasn't always a lot of fun because they were so focused on proper defensive technique and formations and such. I like just 'ragtag' Frisbee, where I'm usually one of the best on the field, so yesterday was a lot of fun. Even L managed to snap out of her moody funk and say in an impressed voice, "Nice throw, Jess!" the first time I threw off to the other team. I hope I wasn't too annoying, though - I started to get frustrated with my team, so I started yelling directions. Sometimes I'd catch a pass and none of my teammates would be upfield for me to throw it to (although the other team sure would be!), and other times, they'd catch the Frisbee, panic, and hurl it off as fast as they could without looking closely at their options (and without taking time to make a good, straight throw). I just said things like, "Move around," "Help her out," "Get back," and "Take your time," and I also made sure to yell "Good job!" whenever anyone did something right, so I don't think I was too irritating. But when I play a game, I want to play 'for real', not halfway. I don't even know HOW to play halfway. But I think that's what most of these girls were trying to do (at least, they weren't all red-faced, muddy, and dripping sweat like I was at the end), so they might have found me annoying. Oh, well - you know what - too bad! :)

It was a day of unusual sports, because I played water polo for the first time last night, too. I was pretty good at the basic ball handling - throwing, catching and shooting. All of which is harder than it sounds, because you can only use one hand - you have to do a sort of flick of the wrist upon catching to absorb the momentum and keep the ball in that one hand rather than letting it bounce away. One of the girls in the circle I was passing with kept shaking her head in disbelief and saying, "I am so impressed with you." I also picked up on the basic offensive and defensive setups pretty fast, because they're a lot like basketball, except that there are six players instead of five. I wasn't so good at other things, though, like faking, or moving quickly with the ball, and it's also hard getting used to how my body moves while doing basketball-like motions in the water as opposed to the air. I'd like to try being a goalie, because I definitely have the reflexes for it (right, Mom? Remember the kayak, and the branch? LOL!), but the girl they have has been playing for like eight years and is practically faultless, so I won't get to. Anyway, I didn't absolutely love it, but it was sort of cool, and I know that one of my worst faults is that I'm so used to being immediately good at things - particularly sports - that I tend to write something off if I'm not among the best at it. So I think I'll go to another few practices, just because I can. Like I said, the regular pool is closed all week for synchro, so why not?

Complete switch in topic: the Schiavo appeal was denied. Good. Hopefully this will all be over soon and the family can finally move on. Oh, and the rest of America too.

Another complete switch: I want to do this trip in mid-August before my time in Utrecht starts. It looks like so much fun! The other option is to do the Cyclades during my October break, but flying into Istanbul (the starting point) seems to be much easier and cheaper (115 euro) than trying to maneuver my way onto some random Greek island. Now it just depends on how much money I'm going to be getting from the university, if any, and I should know all that within the next few weeks.

Okay, off to call L (a group of us might be playing Ultimate Frisbee again tonight) and get something to eat. Ciao!

dinsdag 22 maart 2005

I am well and truly sick of hearing about Terri Schiavo. It seems like wherever I turn these days, someone else is throwing their opinion - often peppered with misinformation - out there. Know what? Ignoring all the political, religious, and moral crap for a second, let's look at the medical perspective. This woman suffered severe brain damage, and over the 15-some years that she's been living in 'suspended animation', her brain has deteriorated to the point where much, if not most, of her cerebral cortex is GONE, replaced by spinal fluid. Even those doctors the family has recruited do not dispute that - they claim she could 'improve', but there has been absolutely no mention by the medical community of recovery. These videos the media keeps inundating us with show movements which are the product of essentially only brain stem activity, where our basic bodily functions (but no thoughts or emotions) are controlled. (Don't even get me started on how the conservatives are in almost full control of the media, showing us only what they want us to see.) Anencephalic babies - children born with a fluid-filled sac in place of all or part of their upper brain - are in almost exactly the same position. No consciousness, and what's more, no capacity for consciousness.

B, a girl in several of my classes, is the president of the UF Pro-Life Association and is strongly in favor of everything conservative. No abortion, no sex before marriage, and certainly no death for Terri. She wears anti-abortion buttons on her backpack, a large cross around her neck, and a Gators for Terri shirt. She maintains that X-rays have shown lots of trauma, suggestive that Terri's husband beat her. Guess what, B? Terri was bulimic. Bulimia, like any eating disorder, wreaks havoc on your body - not only do you lose way too much fat, but you lose bone mass and lean muscle mass (which means your bones break a lot more easily when, just as an example, a medical team does aggressive CPR in an attempt to save your life!). Also, eating disorders in the extreme stages cause potassium imbalances, which can lead to - you guessed it - cardiac failure! Which is the reason we're all embroiled in this in the first place.

(And may I just say - I know eating disorders are very real diseases, but if someone is to the point where her heart is stopping, I doubt that the people close to her were all that in touch with her problems and best interests. Hmm, guilt complex, anyone?)

When I first heard about this case, my first opinion was, "Quit fighting over this poor sack of skin. There's nothing left in there, anyway. Since the parents are willing to take her, just let them take her, and stop saturating the entire world with this story." But when I talked to my parents about it, Dad explained, "If they do that, it sets a legal precedent. Her husband is first in line in the decision-making process. If they overrule him, it means that my letting my spouse know my wishes wouldn't necessarily be enough anymore. If someone else decided they wanted to keep me alive artificially, this case would give them the authority to fight your mom over that decision, and win. We could no longer be certain that our true wishes would be carried out."

The solution I thought of right then was to add a few questions to our driver's licenses. They always ask if you want to be an organ donor - why don't they go a step further and let our licenses also be living wills? I don't really know anything about living wills - how long they are, what-all they entail - but it seems to me that if they can ask about organ donation, they can just as easily also ask if we would want to be kept alive by artificial means, if we want to be buried or cremated, et cetera. It would be in writing and irrefutable, not only on the license, but in the DMV computer system. Sure, not everyone has a driver's license, but the vast majority do. Cases like this - deciding whether or not to take someone off life support - occur far more frequently than most people realize, and I think doing something like this would cut down on the problems by far.

Internet, hear me now - if doctors ever determine that I'm brain dead, for goodness sakes, take out any and all living bits of me that other people can use and then let me die! I find it hard to imagine that anyone would want to be kept alive like that - a sack of skin sucking up hospital money and resources while there's no hope in hell of recovery. Not to mention the toll it takes on the family involved - proper grieving and moving on after a death is impossible when the physical being is still 'here', lying in a hospital bed. The only thing I can fathom that would make someone choose option B is that people might be worried about the possibility of themselves still being 'in there somewhere'. Look, we are living in a miraculous age of technology, so let's trust it. It's simple to tell the difference between a vegetative state - from which you don't ever recover, like Terri - and a coma, from which various degrees of recovery are possible. Nobody's going to chuck you into the ground without being sure. And if it's the religion thing, well, read that essay I posted a link to last week. As that woman said: why are the religious folk, who claim to be at peace with the idea of death, the ones who insist that their souls will go on exactly as they are after they die? It seems to me that those who believe there's nothing afterwards have, in accepting that, made the bigger leap of faith.

In closing... a question for Bush and his Republican drones. It's all about the money for you guys, right? So how come you're so hell-bent on keeping Terri and others like her alive? The cost-effective thing to do would be to just let them go, wouldn't it? And you know what else? If you'd quit holding our country back and let us do stem cell research, we might be able to grow brain cells within just a few years. Heck, we might already have been able to. Cases like Terri's might already be a thing of the past. Think about that.

(Hey, Osama, buddy - since we so kindly ignored you in favor of a totally unrelated country, think your bomb squad could do the Democrats a favor in return? You know what I mean.)

zaterdag 19 maart 2005

Well, we just conquered Lake Wauberg, no alligators in sight. Eight people swam it - the boats took us to the other side of the lake, then flanked us as we swam back. Nobody was quite sure of the exact distance or the exact water temperature, but the director estimated it as between three-quarters of a mile and a full mile, with the water in the mid- to low sixties. "Hmm, same temperature as the Channel!" was my first thought, but I didn't say it out loud. (For the non-swimmers - a normal indoor pool is usually around 80-84 degrees.)

The getting-in was pretty brutal - it was cold, I'm not going to pretend it wasn't - but once we all got going, it was okay. We finished in about half an hour. We all had issues with getting blown off course by the waves, but beyond that, I actually found it to be really easy. The only physical issue I had involved my breathing - in the beginning, I found it hard to breathe bilaterally, but whether that was due to the cold or the mental factor of not being able to see through the water or a combination of the two, I'm not sure. At any rate, that straightened out after the first few minutes, but I still found it easier to breathe on just one side (every two strokes, instead of every three) because it made it easier to 'sight' over the water and stay on course.

Anyway, I know half an hour in 63-degree (or whatever it was) water isn't all that exceptional in the Channel scheme of things, especially since I was among the last to finish, but I was still really happy with how I did, because once we were all out of the water, I had no issues at all. Everyone complained of being cold, even the five of them who 'cheated' by wearing either a wet suit or a surfing rash guard, and of the three of us who just wore normal swimsuits, the other two were really cold afterwards, shaking and breathing a bit heavily. I was taken aback by how absolutely fine I was - I wasn't worn out, wasn't breathing hard, wasn't cold, didn't shake at all, didn't even need my towel or clothes. The other seven people were TriGators, so everyone was in pretty good shape, so all I can think is that I did better because I naturally carry a little more body fat than most of them, which insulates against the cold. When I first got the marathon swimming 'wild hair', I predicted that naturally having the right body type would help me out, and I seem to - so far - have been proven right.

Okay, N and I are going to stuff ourselves at Broward Dining now, and then I'm going to Jacksonville for work tomorrow. My sister's in Italy with her school trip, so it'll be pretty quiet at home.

vrijdag 18 maart 2005

Well, at least ONE of the dozens of scholarship applications I filled out got a response; the CLAS dean's office just sent me an e-mail saying that I had "exceptionally fine credentials" for the Ruth McQuown scholarship ($3000) and that the committee is scheduling me for an interview on April 1st. "The Committee would like to get to know [me] a little better; in particular they would like to hear more about [my] academic interests, community service and how [I] feel these relate to the changing world of women." Yikes. Anybody got any bright ideas on how to respond to that?

Last night was fun; I went to Masters practice instead of the club team's since I had to go take a math exam at 20:30, and my old buddy G was there - first time I'd seen her in a long time. I didn't realize I'd gotten any faster, but apparently I have, because she used to be faster than me but last night she was a lot slower. We didn't get all that much swimming done, though, because R had a water bottle full of whiskey (yay, St. Patrick's Day) and was prancing up and down the lanes, giving everyone sips. "Just pretend it's water, that it'll rehydrate you!" Then, before I went to take my test, she insisted that I couldn't walk 'all the way' (under ten minutes) down to the physics building without enough warm clothes on, and swaddled me in her sweater, zipping it up to my chin as if I were a toddler. The cuffs covered my whole hands!

Anyway, I took the test and was one of the first ones done. I got an A - only missed two questions, one of which was a dumb mistake (I had worked the math correctly and had the right answer, but circled it as a negative instead of a positive). So then I walked home (feeling, admittedly, grateful for R's sweater at that point - what is WITH this weather??) and discovered R and D, a good friend of hers, doing some pre-drinking before going out. They had bought sandwiches and chewy Chips Ahoy, plus a bottle of Irish Cream (of course - St. Patty's!) and some Jim Beam. R was determined to get D drunk, but he didn't want to get as drunk as she was trying to make him, so he kept slipping me his milkshake-like Irish Cream drink so I could 'help'. He was pretty drunk already, though, because he held me captive in the kitchen for, like, ten minutes, rambling on about his high school history project while I was trying to make pasta. Until R came into the kitchen and asked me in Afrikaans, "Is he talking your ear off?" (literally: Is he talking your life away?), with a huge grin, knowing D couldn't understand her, and successfully changed the subject. ("Not everyone can speak German!" "German?!")

Speaking of which, F got back from Germany last night and apparently brought half the country's supply of Kinder chocolate with her (that's the company who makes everything with chocolate, wafer, and hazelnut creme... it's incredible), so now there are five boxes sitting on the railing of the upstairs landing. And since all four of us were just home together for ten brief minutes, the boxes are already half empty. Yes, we're girls.

Anecdote: While watching Discovery Health last night, I found out that the reason guys always stare at girls' chests and butts is because fat deposits (read: curves) send the message that that woman will bear healthy babies. I think I knew that already, but I'd forgotten it. So what am I gonna have - quintuplets?

One last thing: N, one of my swim team friends, has talked me into swimming across Lake Wauberg with her tomorrow. There's apparently a whole group doing it, and there'll be lifeguards in canoes and all, but It. Is. Going. To. Be. FREEZING. And there are alligators in that lake... though I suppose if WE think it's cold, it'll definitely be too cold for an animal that can't control its body temperature. And UF doesn't want to be sued; they wouldn't do anything stupid...

...but if you don't hear from me in the next few days, you know what probably happened. :)

donderdag 17 maart 2005

Can someone please explain to me why, every time I walk away from an English and its Relatives test feeling as if I've done horribly, I get an A? ('Every time' being twice.) There are people in that class who work a lot harder than I do and seem to grasp the concepts better than I do, yet don't do half as well on the tests. A, who sits next to me, seemed to have studied really hard - she was explaining a lot of concepts to me before the test on Tuesday - and yet somehow I got an A- and she got a D-. Granted, there are also several people who've scored above a hundred both times, so it's not as if I'm the best in the class or anything, but I'm still mystified by how I can feel as if I know absolutely nothing and still walk away with an A. Knowing Dutch does give me an advantage on certain questions, but not enough of an advantage to make the difference between an A and a D. Ah, well, I guess it's better than the other way around (which is what usually happens in Language and Culture, where I'm certain I know absolutely everything and then get hit with an 85).

Speaking of English and its Relatives, I sent this speech to one of the professors in there yesterday (after I'd read it twice and nearly swooned with relief that there are still a precious few thinking people in this world), and he liked it as much as I did. If you consider yourself to be open-minded, I'd suggest you read it. It's one of those things I wanted to e-mail out to every single person I know, but I realized in time that only Mom and my sister would probably appreciate it (and maybe you and Uncle John too, Aunt Patsy, if you're reading :)). I understand and respect the importance of respecting all belief systems - hell, almost every single one of my friends is religious to some degree - but it is SUCH A RELIEF to come across people like the author of this speech! It's like - wow, people who think like I do! Imagine! We're a rare breed, and I'm so glad I have the parents I do (read: thinking people) and that I live in a university (read: liberal) town instead of being born to two of the 'general masses' of the South (read: conservative, close-minded rednecks) and being shipped off to some tiny Christian college to make sure I never got the chance to change. I know I sit with my head in my hands a lot of the time, wondering how on earth people can be so STUPID, but I guess a lot of them just really never get the chance to be any different. They were trained as children to think and believe a certain way, and the idea of stepping out of that once they got the chance just seemed, one way or the other, too scary. I recall one of my close friends in high school, near the end of our year of intensive International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement biology courses, declaring that she still didn't believe we had evolved from apes and intended to write her Extended Essay on the Creationist theory. There are no words to express how angry and disappointed I was - that in the face of such overwhelming evidence, with the superior intellect that she, like all of us, had, that she would still choose the 'safe route', where there's always an explanation or justification, where thinking for yourself is never truly necessary.

(And yes, she is now attending a tiny religious college, in case you were wondering.)

Well, I didn't intend to ramble on so long about this, but now that I have, it's time for me to study some math, go to swim practice, then go take my evening math exam. The descriptions of the cold, rainy weather, my awesome TriGators shirt, and my freshly multicolored big toenail (thanks, large girl in swim class) will have to wait for another day.

dinsdag 15 maart 2005

Recovered from my laughing fit, I'm now ready to share this with all of you. In trying to finish up my Language and Dialect paper, I found a couple of really good articles at Wikipedia.org. Wikipedia has tons of links in each article, and while I was browsing Old English, I came across the Norman conquest in 1066. Clicking on it, I spotted William the Conqueror's name. I clicked, and had an immediate Stanton flashback to my ninth grade world history teacher, 'Boss' Howard, whom we constantly made fun of for wearing pink button-down shirts. I have exactly two memories from that class. The first is him telling us that Napoleon was so short that his bed was square rather than rectangle, and the second had to do with William the Conqueror. According to the Boss's anecdote, William was hugely fat and had gotten jammed in the stomach by his saddle horn during a battle, causing some pretty massive internal bleeding and his subsequent death. When trying to place him in the coffin, however, he turned out to be too fat to fit. The pallbearers pushed and pushed on his stomach, trying to cram him in, when the corpse gave in to the tension and exploded, spraying blood and guts everywhere. None of us ever quite believed that far-fetched story - the Boss tended to go off on less-than-credible tangents - however, in scrolling to the end of the Wikipedia article, I read this:

"[William the Conqueror] died aged 60 ... from abdominal injuries received from his saddle pommel when he fell off a horse at the Siege of Mantes. ... In a most unregal postmortem, William's corpulent body would not fit in the stone sarcophagus, and, after some unsuccessful prodding by the assembled bishops, exploded, mephitizing the chapel and dispersing the mourners."

I can see Boss Howard now, in his pink shirt and glasses, doubled over in a snorting fit of hysterics. "William the Conqueror exploded!" We didn't believe him at the time, but he turned out to be right after all. Go figure.

zondag 13 maart 2005

Well, I did get up for the triathlon, and it was fun. N, a girl from swim team, also competes with TriGators, the UF triathlon team, and so does her sister L, so the two of them stuck with me all day. Decked out in sports bras and bike shorts, we swam the 250 meters (piece of cake), then threw on T-shirts and biked the 4 miles (not too awful, except for one evil hill), and ran the 1.5 miles (short, but terrible). I finished in about 45 minutes - N and her sister were a little faster, partly because they had 'real' racing bikes whereas I was trying to force a race out of my three-year-old fifty-dollar Wal-Mart investment with the kiddie nameplate on the back. Doesn't make for cooperative legs during the run. Ah, well, what could I do? Maybe someday I'll invest in a real bike, but it won't be anytime in the near future. My next 'sporty' purchase is going to be - finally - a Speedo swimming backpack, the bag of choice for swimmers. My Adidas duffel bag serves the purpose, but the Speedo will be easier on my shoulders during the cross-campus hikes to the pool, and it's more water-resistant, so it won't drip all over me (and the bus) after practice.

But I'm rambling. Anyway. There were some awfully little kids at that race - and they finished it, too! Two little girls, 10 and 8, and this tiny Filipino-looking boy whose age I didn't catch - nine or ten, I'd guess - but who smoked his way through the course, beating his own father (whom he trains with). They said he did the same thing last year - blew most of the adults out of the water. I was running the last couple hundred yards to the finish when I heard fast-moving feet behind me. "Wow, somebody's really pouring on the steam here at the end," I thought, not looking back. Then the little boy ran past me - his shorter legs being the reason I'd thought he was an adult running hard. He finished twenty or thirty seconds ahead of me, to huge applause. I caught the eye of a female supporter as I ran by and moaned, "That was really embarrassing." She, along with everybody else, started laughing.

So then it was over, and we had a whole day to go! N and I jumped back into the pool where R was coaching Masters practice and swam a little to cool off, then munched on bagels and Gatorade while talking with random people and buying T-shirts. Then we noticed that the sports massage students were across the street with their tables giving free massages to the athletes, so OF COURSE we went over there! Bliss... Then the three of us went our separate ways for an hour or two, agreeing to call each other when we got hungry. So we all showered and laid around lethargically in our separate rooms, then, at almost exactly the same time, all suddenly grabbed our phones and called each other and complained that we were starving. So we met up again at Pita Pit, followed up by Ben & Jerry's. (If I believed in God, his name would be Mint Chocolate Chunk.) I killed the rest of the day in front of the computer and on the phone with Mom, then caught the tail end of Silence of the Lambs while eating cheese grits for dinner. (Healthy day I'm having here, eh?)

And so here I sit again... putting off finishing my Language and Dialect paper. I need to work on it, because it's due Wednesday and I have an exam Tuesday which is going to take all my time tomorrow night - but I just don't wanna. N, L and I agreed on the walk back that this was a great weekend - lots of sports and no school. But now it's time for school again, and I think I'd rather have just one more day of rest first. Bah.

zaterdag 12 maart 2005

Well, it's over, and I survived - even had fun! I was nervous like nobody's business this morning - could barely eat my cereal - but once I got to the pool and started warm-ups, I finally settled down. Taking Friday off did me good; when I tried a few experimental strokes of butterfly, it felt great. That, too, went a long way towards settling me down - as did the fact that we were in our home pool, on familiar territory. Tulane had a nice pool (and they had a freakin' SAUNA in the locker room!), but at away meets, little things always stress you out and throw you off. For example, we had bad directions at Tulane and ended up at the wrong building, so we ended up carrying heavy cartons of Gatorade and water all over creation before we found the right place. Then the normal T-shape of the black lane lines on the bottom of the pool turned out to be different - more like an H - and that disoriented most of us a bit on our flip turns. Just little things like that. 'Home field advantage' really does matter.

Anyway, I swam - in this order - the 200 IM, the 50 free, the 100 free, and the third leg of the 200 freestyle relay. I shaved a little time off every event I did, so I was happy about that, but the only event I really and truly cared about was that IM. You guys know that, because of my silly, nervous entry yesterday, so I will now proceed to bore you with the details of it.

When I 'casually' timed myself in practice, I swam about a 3:25, so I knew going in that I would come in last - only eight girls were swimming the event and the others had all been high school IMers - so I wasn't all that worried about how I swam in relation to the others. My only goal was to complete the race swimming all the strokes well (especially the fly) and not to look like one of those slow, half-drowning swimmers that everyone 'sympathy claps' for at the end. And I succeeded in that, even though it was pretty tough. The butterfly was actually not too bad - the dive gave me a shorter distance to swim for the first lap than I was used to, since we don't dive in practice, and that helped conserve some strength. The backstroke was pretty uneventful, but things started to get tough during the breaststroke. I was in an end lane, and half the team was standing alongside the pool cheering me on. The only real word I could distinguish was when I first switched from backstroke to breaststroke and heard A yell, "Now PULL!" Which I did, but after only three or four strokes, my arms started to noticeably burn, to the point where I thought, Whoa, I must be working hard - that's never happened quite like that before. So I slacked off a tiny bit for the breaststroke, preferring to have a little bit left for the freestyle. The strategy apparently worked, because I finished the race without feeling like I looked like a struggling idiot. The only difficult part was when I switched to backstroke, because my clumsy push-off managed to send a wave of water over my face and let me suck some chlorine. Yummy. Ever since I read the book Swallowing Stones and learned that the way not to choke on things is to force yourself to swallow no matter what - to suppress the cough reflex and NOT to inhale - I've trained myself to do exactly that. It's instinct now, and it's saved me from choking on food as well as pool water. So I followed that instinct today and didn't choke or have any major issues, but with as fast and hard as I was breathing - especially on breaststroke - I irritated the chlorine coat over my throat and couldn't clear it up for the next couple of hours. But I barely noticed, because I finished, and finished well!

That was enough for me; I was proud just to have completed the race, which so many people consider so difficult. Looking up at the scoreboard was an afterthought - I didn't think about it until I was already out of the water and walking over to the stands - and when I did finally look up, I stopped in my tracks. Instead of the 3:25 I had expected to see, there was a big glowing 3:11! Still last place, but fourteen seconds faster than in practice! Upon closer observation, I saw that I hadn't gotten truly left behind, either - a couple of girls finished only a few seconds ahead of me. For once in my life, I was truly a hundred percent happy with that - just meeting a personal goal instead of 'succeeding' by others' standards - and that made me even more proud.

Anyway, like I said, I shaved a little time off my other three events, too, so it was a good meet. Our girls came in first, by a lot, and afterwards all the teams went out to Lake Wauberg and gorged ourselves on food, walked around the lake, played football, and checked out the climbing wall and victory tower for future trips. Aside from the weather being just a bit too windy for comfort, it was a really nice day.

The next question is, will I actually get up at six tomorrow morning and go do the sprint triathlon? The later it gets, the more I lean towards no, so I'd better go to bed.

vrijdag 11 maart 2005

Okay, the nervousness has officially hit. Argh. I thought you eventually got over the whole butterflies-in-the-stomach thing as you got older? Well, I guess 'less frequently' is good enough. But still. Argh.

The metaphor is awfully appropriate in this case, seeing as it's the 200 IM - specifically, the 50 yards of butterfly which kick off that 200 IM - which have me in such a tailspin. I can do 25 yards of butterfly easily. The second 25 are not quite as easy. And then there are 150 more yards to go.

Mount block. Situate feet. "Take your mark." Crouch. Beep.

Dive. Hope that goggles stay in place. Butterfly. Touch side with two hands, push off. Butterfly. Hope I don't look like an idiot.

Touch with two hands, push off on my back. Backstroke. See flags. Count 3 strokes. Flip to stomach. Flip turn. Surface on back. Do not get water in nose. Backstroke. See flags. Count 4 strokes, yes, 4. Do not crack head on wall.

Grab wall with one hand. Turn and push off. Breaststroke. Try to channel Lauren the Breaststroke Goddess. Touch wall with two hands. Push off. Breaststroke. Try not to hyperventilate.

Touch wall with two hands. Push off. Freestyle, really fast. Ignore muscles which say they must stop. Flip turn. Freestyle, as fast as I can possibly go. Refuse to pass out. Finish.

...Simple, right?

Well, the test went okay. Unfortunately, she didn't give us the fourth prompt (which we all loudly complained about as the sheets were being passed out), but it still went okay with 1 and 3. I got the info I needed for the first part of the noun classes essay, sketchy though it may have been. I forgot one of my points for the third essay - I knew I'd had five points of elaboration and suddenly completely forgot the last one - but as I wrote, I remembered it. So it turned out all right. I'm expecting an A.

Two Impact party members really ticked me off today. I was sitting at a table in the sun during my free fifth period, listening to my iPod and finishing up the last of the three books Mom bought me over break. (Notice - reading a book and wearing headphones.) Yet they still came up to me and asked if they could ask me the questions from a 'spiritual survey'. A thousand retorts flashed through my mind, but the one that came out was, "Well, you can try." All they got out of their nicety-nice politically correct questions was: I'm an atheist, I don't go to church and never have, I can't remember there ever having been a time when I believed in a God, and I believe that when we croak, that's it.

I wasn't very nice to them, but I didn't really care. I had just taken a test and was trying to 'decompress'; I was obviously in 'do-not-disturb' mode, and still they came over and harassed me with questions that were none of their damn business. Way to represent your party favorably. Not like I was planning to vote in the SG elections anyway, but if I were, Impact would have just lost my vote in a big way.

(I haven't actually talked to anyone who IS going to vote, and this is because SG has failed to note that nobody on campus has the slightest idea (a) what any of the parties stand for, (b) what the differences are between them, (c) when the elections are, or (d) where we're supposed to vote. Nor, I might add, do most people care that much. We did our part by making Alachua a Kerry county, and look how that turned out.)

Okay, I'm going back to my book now.

Nobody but my fellow linguists will care about this, but I'm setting it down anyway (albeit in a weird mix of 'blog-talk' and formal writing) because I need to hammer it into my brain. I don't quite have all the information I need, but I have as much as I can do for one night. The first one is pretty incomplete, the second one is better and the third one kicks butt. After I type these prompts, I'm going to bed.

Many of the Niger-Congo languages of Africa are characterized by extensive noun class systems. Explain what noun classes are and how they are realized morphologically in Swahili or Sukuma (two Bantu languages) and in Fula-Pulaar (an Atlantic language), then, making reference to McLaughlin & Sall's essay in Linguistic Fieldwork, discuss some of the difficulties involved in researching noun classes.

Okay, well, I don't know how to explain WHAT noun classes are - that's like trying to explain what water is, or fire - you know it on a basic level, but can't really put it into words. I'll hopefully be able to get that from someone tomorrow morning before we start. But anyway, in the Bantu languages they're marked with prefixes (which were probably originally suffixes which migrated 'through' the words), and in Fula-Pulaar, well, I don't know, because it's not in the book or my notes. That, too, I'll get from someone tomorrow. But as for the difficulties, I've got those.

First off, noun classes are usually determined by the semantic features of the nouns (e.g. 'almost flat but not quite', like a cupped hand or a bird's beak), but sometimes the phonological features of the noun can affect which class it gets assigned to, which makes it difficult for non-native speakers to make out a pattern. Next, there are often multiple 'forms' of a language - for example, the 'urban' form (which, in Wolof, uses heavy borrowing from French) as opposed to the 'deep' or 'rural' form, which is more linguistically 'pure'. A noun can take one class in one form of the language and a different class in another. Dialects also cause problems in this area. Also, there are three other challenges mentioned in the essay which can apply to every area of linguistic research, not just noun classes. First of all, class or status differences between the linguists and informants can cause tension. Second, the lingua franca used by the linguist and informant is not always structurally similar enough for direct translation to/from the language being studied; in other cases, certain ideas cannot be easily expressed due to a 'culture vs. vocabulary' problem. And lastly, the informants often 'over-think' the data that they supply, thinking that they should provide the forms that they know to be grammatically perfect rather than the forms that they themselves use in normal speech. While well-intentioned, this often causes the linguist's portrait of the 'common language' to be less than accurate.

The native languages of the Americas are generally polysynthetic languages. Explain what this means and illustrate your answer with a discussion of the polysynthetic nature of Yup'ik Eskimo described in Lyovin. Referring to either Hale or Mithun's essay in Linguistic Fieldwork, describe some of the challenges of working on Native American languages, many of which are endangered.

Polysynthetic languages are languages in which all the morphemes in a sentence are 'stuck together' into one long word. They generally have a rich morphology with lots of inflection, particularly on the verbs; the morphology does most of the work, so syntax takes a backseat. (They are the opposite of analytic languages such as Mandarin Chinese, in which every morpheme stands alone and has a separate meaning.) Yup'ik Eskimo is one well-known example of a polysynthetic language. The makeup of syntactic units in this language is as follows: base/stem + (post-base) + ending + (enclitic). Most bases and stems can be either nouns or verbs; it is the ending which determines this. Nouns are inflected for case, number, and possession; this inflection also occurs in the ending and is usually so fused together that it is impossible to separate the morphemes; this construction is referred to as a portmanteau morpheme. There is no limit to the number of post-bases which can be used; these morphemes are the equivalent of 'non-essential' words in English, expressing concepts such as probability.

One of the biggest challenges in working on Native American languages is that there are so few speakers left for many of them; the majority are very endangered. Moreover, what work has been done on these languages by other scholars - the 'building blocks' where today's linguists begin their work - is often imperfect. A larger problem, however, is that so many of the speakers are currently bilingual that the grammars of two or more languages in close contact often 'fuse', making it difficult for a linguist to determine which characteristics are true to the language being studied and which are borrowed from an influencing language. This is seen in Hale's essay, where Ulwa is being studied but is influenced by Miskitu, the lingua franca used in elicitation. The two languages have very similar structures and this is part of the reason that Hale finds spontaneous speech to be so important. Elicitation can be misleading for other reasons, too; for example, it is by far easier to elicit nouns than verbs, but if verbs dominate natural speech, this could paint an inaccurate picture. And finally, certain phonological distinctions in Native American languages can be very difficult to hear for native speakers of other languages, which stresses the importance of learning the language being studied to the extent that elicitation and further study with informants can be conducted solely in the language of study.

Contact between languages may have several different outcomes. Describe these outcomes and the social factors that might condition them. Next, discuss what pidgins and creoles are and how they come into being. Then, discuss at least three of the linguistic characteristics of pidgins and creoles, drawing examples from the discussion of Tok Pisin in Lyovin.

There are at least three different possible outcomes when contact occurs between languages. Use of a lingua franca is the easiest method for full communication between speakers of different native languages; for example, if a native speaker of German were visiting Spain, chances are English would be used as the lingua franca. A second possibility is bilingualism, which often results in code switching - a sort of 'mixture' between the two languages. This mixing is systematic, not random, and changes based on the speaker's domain (if he or she is at home versus school or church, etc.) but even so, it often evolves to the point where some speakers can no longer speak either language 'untainted', without some of the second tongue mixed in. The third possibility is the most interesting: the development of a pidgin languages. Pidgin languages develop when two parties must communicate, but neither speaks the other's language. Each party uses rudimentary words and phrases, a 'stripped-down' form of their native language, to try to communicate with each other. Eventually, a mixture of the two parties' languages - a pidgin - is formed. Pidgins are very restrictive, without the full range of nuance and emotion seen in a 'normal' language, and are therefore only used in certain contexts (such as trade); nobody speaks a pidgin as a native language. However, all pidgins (and creoles) share certain characteristics, regardless of where they are spoken, implying that people tend to simplify in similar ways, which leads some linguistics to the Bioprogram Hypothesis - the belief that language is innate in humans and that this might be a clue to the 'language blueprint' - the bare bones of what constitutes a language.

Pidgins can, however, become creoles, through a process known as depidginization or creolization. Creoles differ from pidgins in that they are 'full' languages with the complete range of nuance and emotion; there are many native speakers of creoles. Supporters of the Bioprogram Hypothesis generally believe that young children hear whatever pidgin is spoken around them and take an extra 'leap' and turn the pidgin into a full-bodied language. However, there are other hypotheses for how pidgins and creoles come into being, all of which are still just that - hypothetical. The Independent Parallel Development theory suggests that pidgins and creoles originate in different places all around the world rather than from one original source; this supports the Bioprogram Hypothesis, that the similarities come from the 'language blueprint' in our brains. The Monogenetic Relexification theory, however, says exactly the opposite; that all pidgins and creoles have a common origin (thus accounting for the similarities) and have been simply relexified into the language(s) in the surrounding environment. Still another theory, the Nautical Jargon hypothesis, states that the common origin of pidgins and creoles comes from Portuguese and British sailors who sailed around Africa and left traces behind everywhere they went. This would account for the unusually high occurrence of nautical terms and Portuguese words in pidgins and creoles around the world.

Although there is no one theory which is accepted by the entire linguistic community (is there ever?), there are certain characteristics seen in essentially all pidgins and creoles, (as exemplified in this essay by Tok Pisin, spoken in Papua New Guinea). These languages are almost always analytic, or isolating, meaning that every morpheme stands alone and has a separate meaning. Secondly, case is not marked in and of itself (only by word order and prepositions, as in English). And finally, the gender distinction is usually leveled. In Tok Pisin, the third-person singular 'em' can represent 'he', 'she', or 'it'.

...Tomorrow, I will proceed to regurgitate something along these lines onto my exam paper.

Goodnight, all.

donderdag 10 maart 2005

Exactly two hours since my last post. The pasta and chocolate chip muffin are long gone (the lone witness to their existence is the straining button on my jeans), the dishes are washed (well, mine are; I speak not for my roommates), and - it has come to my attention that the twinge I felt in my shoulder at the pool this afternoon is now somewhat more than a twinge when moved in certain directions. Sigh. 36 hours before a meet. Of course. Did I expect anything less?

Okay. No more procrastination. Time for essays.


This week has not treated me very kindly up to this point. The weather has been far too cold for my (admittedly, spoiled) Floridian taste, all of my bathing suits are stretching, shredding, and otherwise disintegrating, the TA in my math class has even less of a clue than usual, I'm physically dragged out from some brutal swimming (we've been doing some of the varsity team's sets), I have an essay test tomorrow for which I had to buy yet another textbook (bringing the semester's total to 13), and, to top it all off, my favorite watch - the triathlon-designed one that I practically never take off - went belly-up yesterday. Water-resistant, my foot.

Ah, well, at least it's Thursday afternoon. Only one more day to go. Although the weekend isn't going to bring too much rest, either - we have a swim meet on Saturday and (assuming I'm not dead afterwards) I'm also planning to do the TriGators sprint triathlon on Sunday. It's insanely short (250m swim, 4mi bike, 1.5mi run) so I should be fine. It'll be a physically hard weekend, though, so I'm going to start my carbo-loading in earnest tonight with a great big bowl of pasta. My poor body deserves it - it's been working hard these past couple weeks. And tomorrow I'm purposely skipping practice, for the first time since I can remember. We're not really tapering much for this meet because everybody else apparently took spring break off. But I didn't - during that one week, I ran a total of 10 miles and swam about 5. I was working all break and felt like a slug - I had to move! But I'll be worthless on Saturday if I don't get at least one day's rest beforehand.

Oh, and anybody want to take a stab at what I'm swimming? (No, not the 200 fly - shut up, R, we don't even have 200 fly at club meets, and if we did, the lifeguards would have their work cut out for them.) ... The 200 IM. For you non-swimming folk, that's the individual medley, where each swimmer does 50 yards of each stroke. Fly, back, breast, free. Yes, that's right, 50 yards of butterfly. In a race. With 150 more yards to swim after it. OUCH. See why I want Friday off? I did three or four 200 IMs last night at practice, because I started freaking out when A told me what I was swimming and wanted to reassure myself that I could actually finish a 50 fly. Well, I can, it's just slow (and the last 10-15 yards aren't too pretty). I've already made it clear to everyone that I completely expect to come in dead last (I'd be happy with a 3:25), and that I'm only swimming this event for the experience, because it's something different and something I always love doing in practice. But it's twice as long as the IMs we usually do. And today I had MAJOR trouble finishing the 50 fly when I tried it. I know we were at the godforsaken Florida Pool (hot water, wide lanes, and lots of current), and I know I overdid it with the butterfly last night, and I know I'm pretty dragged out in general (I've swum 8 times already this week), but it still makes me a bit panicky. Listen up, muscles - you work when I tell you to, got it?!

Anyway, so there's my reasoning. Friday marks Jess's official Laziness Day as well as Feeding Frenzy. Bring it on!

Okay, enough swimming talk. Sorry about that. It's just kind of taking over, because the only other thing looming large in my mind at the moment is my Language and Dialect essay test tomorrow morning. We had the option of taking it Monday, which all but 4 people are doing, but I have an English and its Relatives test on Tuesday, a paper due Wednesday, and a math test on Thursday. So I'm doing the responsible thing and not procrastinating - but oh, how I want to. We've been given 4 essay prompts. 3 will appear on the test, of which we pick 2. This is not a bad deal - we know exactly what will be asked, so it should be a no-brainer, right? Well, no, because this is the (admittedly, brilliant) red-haired Teacher Who Loves Minutiae and thinks we should be able to write all four of these essays in excruciating detail (including material from her own essays, contained in the textbook I just bought, so we cannot screw that info up!) and then memorize them. My question is, why bother memorizing? Why can't we just pick two, type them at home at our leisure, and turn them in? Bah. Oh, well - those of you who are mathematically inclined (or who went through IB in high school and have mastered every possible manner in which to slack off) may already have noticed that if the test will contain 3 questions of which we only have to respond to 2, then we should in theory be able to ignore the most evil of the four entirely and only prepare 3 answers. Which I fully intend to do. Ergative/absolutive languages do not thrill me. (Neither do noun classes, pidgins and creoles, or polysynthetic languages, but they are all slightly less excruciating.)

(Actually, I lie. Pidgins and creoles are actually pretty interesting, not at all excruciating. It just sounded better to write it that way.)

And as the final blow to my already-suckified week: the fall course catalog is out. (General reminder: Jess will not be at UF in the fall; the pull of the Netherlands knows no bounds.) But the classes, if I may say so, are wonderful. Intro to Syntax (which I was dying to take this semester), Old English, Brain and Language (with that Dutch professor I like so much)... and, of course, all the first courses in Arabic, Swahili, and any other new language I might have thought about taking. Plus that precursor to the EMT course is offered at a normal time, and there's even, random as it sounds, a fencing class.

But I won't be here. Bah. Bah. Bah.

Random thought: you know, what I'd really like to learn is Xhosa (an African click language). Wonder if that's one of the ones I could learn if I go to work for the NSA? *checks* ... Nope, it says "Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Farsi, Hindi, Korean, Pashto, or Urdu." Out of those, Arabic appeals to me the most, but Chinese or Hindi might be okay too. The others don't really appeal to me at all. Wonder if they'd be more likely to put me into an Arabic or Chinese class if I took a class here prior to entering the program?...

Okay, well, I have nothing happy to say right now, and I'm starving, so I think I'll go start that pot of pasta. (Notice that in the space of this post it has grown from a bowl to a pot. Brace yourselves.)

Pasta, detailed linguistics essays, and a squashed chocolate-chip muffin. What more could a girl want?

zondag 6 maart 2005

Spring break is almost over... it's Sunday afternoon. I got back at 11:30 last night (actually, 11:45, because R called on my way into town, "Uh, could you pick up some toilet paper?"), H got back really early this morning from Miami, and F is in an airplane as we speak, flying back from Germany. The dynamic quad will soon be back to normal.

Anyway, I've been in Jacksonville for all of break, working for Runways and hanging out at home. Everyone was sick but me - Mom's just getting over a bad cold, Dad's kind of martyring through what has turned into a sinus infection, and poor C is the worst - she had what we think was the flu, and then it turned into double ear infections; the doctor says her right eardrum might rupture. ("You would not believe how red that thing was," Mom said, "like a stoplight!") Anyway, so everybody was pretty cranky and not much fun to be around, but I wasn't home all that much anyway - Mom and I spent a day out, buying shoes and other things, and I 'babysat' my grandmother with Alzheimers on another day, and the rest of the time I was either working or exercising. I swam twice, ran 2.5 miles twice, and then ran 5 miles on Wednesday night when I was feeling really good.

Yesterday was the only day that really felt like the traditional spring break, though - I went to UNF to swim (4000 yards in an hour and a half, go me!) and then put on my new bikini and went out to the beach. (Yes, I finally found a bikini top that fits, or at least which doesn't quite look like something out of Maxim.) I laid there for an hour or two, listening to Jimmy Buffett on my iPod and reading one of my new books. The tide was all the way in and there weren't that many people on the beach anyway (it was a little cool, with the breeze), but it was nice to be there.

Anyway, now I'm back at school, and facing the reality of a seven-page paper which is due on the 16th. It's not going to get done this weekend (we have a swim meet this Saturday and there's a sprint triathlon on Sunday), so I need to work on it today, but I'm really not feeling motivated. Everyone in the complex who's back from break is lying around out in the courtyard soaking up the sun. The chairs are all taken, so there's no real point in going down, but I'm sick of sitting up here in this room at the computer all the time - or at least it feels like all the time. I haven't seen R all day - my guess is that she's over at the O-Dome pool lying in the sun; rank has its privileges - and H basically dumped all her stuff downstairs and then ran off somewhere with her friends. So I'm home alone again.

Random thought: I sort of wanted to do the River Run this Saturday - that's a big deal in Jacksonville - but our meet is the same day and I'd definitely rather swim than run. Why aren't there 3 days in the weekend?

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